Skill Futures: Free to Choose Skill Futures: Free to Choose

Skill Futures: Free to Choose

This online visual lecture by Bahar Noorizadeh centers around her recent work, Free to Choose (2023) commissioned for Open Systems 1_Open Worlds, a virtual exhibition by SAM. Noorizadeh will share key ideas and research that shape the work, which proposes Hong Kong as a simulated game space for market theorists in the second half of the 20th century and economic policy as a worldbuilding tool.

An operatic financial sci-fi, Free to Choose is narrated by Milton Friedman, an American economist who was the real-life evangelist of Hong Kong’s free market policies. The work reframes financial instruments as a time-travelling machine that allows the wealthy to borrow money from their future selves. It follows Philip Tose—an ex-race car driver and CEO of an insolvent company— from 1997 to 2047 as he attempts to escape the impact of the economic crash to seek a bailout from his older self. Hong Kong in 2047 is ridden with the aftereffects of Friedman’s advocacy, where economic freedom has not produced the unparalleled human freedom that he predicted but new forms of corruption. In this dystopia, preferential treatment for time-travel is given to the rich and powerful, while young “credit rating” activists demand universal access to the future.

The visual lecture will be followed by a conversation with SAM curator Duncan Bass. This session is held in conjunction with the series Skill Futures.

About the artist

Bahar Noorizadeh looks at the relationship between art and capitalism. In her practice as an artist, writer and filmmaker, she examines the conflictual and contradictory notions of imagination and speculation as they suffuse one another. Her research investigates the histories of economics, cybernetic socialism, and activist strategies against the financialization of life and the living space, asking what redistributive historical justice might look like for the present. Noorizadeh is the founder of Weird Economies, a co-authored and socially-connected project that traces economic imaginaries extraordinary to financial arrangements of our time.

About Skill Futures

In a time when the physical and digital are blurred, what skills do we need to understand and critically shape our hybrid realities? Artists are now being asked to invest in digital skills more than ever: to "upskill" and pursue "personal development," to prepare to emerge on the other side of COVID equipped for a future whose material and digital realities will be even more intertwined. But what does it mean to become "smarter"? To what ends are new technical skills being pursued? Skill Futures is a digital commissioning platform of the Singapore Art Museum, which features performances, workshops, and experimental lectures. It elaborates on the new forms of "intelligence" that emerges from different ways of reading the screen as a speculative medium of the future. These programmes may take the form of talks, discussions, workshops, or performative commissions led by SAM curators.   Click here to find out more about Skill Futures in our blog article.